Day 371 ~ Book Whispers


I’ve been reading Richard Quinney’s book this week. I purchased it at the Zandbroz Variety Store in Fargo on Friday when I was there with Gracie. This is my favorite store in which I can get to within a couple of hours – it has everything I love; books – new and vintage, dishes, paper/stationary, fountain pens, a few antiques, dish towels, candles and lotions, chocolate – just everything I might love to surround myself with. Gracie agreed to visit the store with me, to her dread, I’m sure, knowing she would later have to lure me out.

She needed to use the bathroom, so I was her guide to the back room where the vintage books were shelved, and the bathroom was hidden. While I waited for her, two books by Richard Quinney were waving at me for attention. So, I pulled them off of the shelves and read a few entries. I adored the simplicity of his writing and savored the texture of the cover and pages – a heavy book cloth and yellowed-worn pages. They were priced right, so I carried them around with me as I continued to hummingbird my way through the store.

I had not done a typical book preview that is more thorough before purchasing, so it was a surprise once I began reading.


You are sprinkling sweet whispers to me throughout the pages of Quinney’s book, aren’t you. So sneaky, you are. I just keep shaking my head.

For one, it turns out, Mr. Richard Quinney is Irish. His Great Grandparents immigrated from Ireland. On page 20, he stops at Sullivan’s for a beer – Killian’s Red, of course.

He gets on a roll talking about his photography on page 26-27, but then comes to an abrupt end and writes, “Enough talk about photography.” You used to say talk in this way when you wanted to switch the conversation to the kids or to us.

On page 42, you give me a passage from Thich Nhat Hann, of which I shared in yesterday’s post. Words that remind me – you are okay and we’ll see you again soon.      I’ll share it again here:


Today, Quinney wrote about his Irish friend, Desmond Egan, a poet from Ireland.

Well, I felt nudged to look him up on the internet, using my phone.

A series of videos popped up of him reading poems, sitting at a desk with books behind him, as if in a library. I decided to listen to just one. But, could not decide which one to pick. I randomly clicked on one of which only a portion of the title was shown,

“Song for My. . .”

What would it be? His cat? Dog? Purple car? I was in suspence.

Once it opened up, the complete title was visible.

Song for My Father”

Of course. This would be the one you had me choose.

Desmond Egan reading “Song for My Father“.

I was immediately brought to moments a couple of weeks after you left us, when I walked around in a zombie like haze. The world had shifted on it’s axis and I wasn’t clear where and who I was. Like Desmond, it befuddled me how the flowers and the trees and the fields and the cattle all looked unfazed, undeterred, unbothered by your absence. People were shopping in the grocery like nothing had happened.

Desmond’s words gave me solace today – in granting me a knowing that grief is something we all share.

And yet, when our fathers leave us, we must keep singing our song.

For our Fathers.




Day 370 ~ Whispers Through the Trees

Sitting outside this early morning, with the sun kissing my skin, enveloped in the essence of this day. I’ve picked up the book I’ve been reading, Once Again The Wonder, by Richard Quinney. Through his penned string of words, he quotes Thich Nhat Hanh.

And, I hear some whispers from my father, whose presence has left this earth 370 days ago today.

I’m now gazing at the trees and feeling grace.

Day 364 ~ Wonky Eyebrows

My eyebrows were wonky today. I tried to trim them with my small scissors, but it’s difficult when they are wiry and each hair has a mind of it’s own. Plucking them is a job in itself and waxing it out of the question – I’m too wimpy for that.

Mom has beautiful eyebrows, the arch shaped so lovely. But, I must have inherited my eyebrows from you.

I remember Gracie saying:

“Grandpa! Your eyebrows are all messed up!”

“I know! Sometimes this side goes one way and the other side goes the other way and I start walking in circles!” you replied.

This confused Gracie.

I know Mom would trim your eyebrows for you. Did they ever get in your eyes?

I bought a birthday card for you a few years ago that I was unable to give in time.

I’ll have to save it to give one of the boys – or maybe not.

I’ll keep it for your birthday still.

Day 362 ~ Everyone Will Be Okay. . .

I was depressed this morning when I woke up and didn’t know what to do with myself – the neighbor’s barking dog, tractors, loud trucks and lawn mowers suffocating me with noise. I had to go somewhere to find some peace.

So, I packed a salad lunch and went to visit you at the cemetery.

It was a glorious sky blue day, with a warm breeze that embraced my presence. I could not have chosen a more perfect place to visit to lift my spirits.

Christopher has recently dug a rectangular hole here. He is pouring a 2 X 5 cement foundation for your memorial stone which is finished now. I arrived to find his display of old finishing trowels and carpenter’s pencils set intentionally as if he was preparing an altar. I had tears imagining him doing this work alone out here. The rest of us come to visit. He does the work. . . your youngest son who carries your gift of masonry. We all help to take care of things in our own ways.

Some are just more painful that others.

I sat and ate my salad. “Rabbit food”, you would call it. You never did like to eat salad all that much, and despised mom when she set it in front of you – meat, a potato, a pickle and bread – your meal of choice. I should have brought chocolate cake – you would have liked that I was having that. Next time.

I let mom know I was here and that I’d come to visit her after. She was on her way home from Mahnomen. Sunday church. I scolded her the last time she went to Mahnomen to church – for fear of the caronavirus. But, twice now, she hasn’t gone in. She drives there and notices there are so many cars and gets nervous, so she just lets the young people go in and she sits in her car. I assume she listens to church then on the radio or her phone, maybe she just sits there and prays, I didn’t ask her this. I should ask more questions, I know. . .

She then goes to the grocery store and this Sunday, stopped at a greenhouse to get some flowers for Amelia to plant. The lady at the greenhouse gave her some for free because her husband has brain cancer and she has to close the greenhouse now, and she can’t do it alone. (sigh) We all are going through something. We are reminded of this every day. “Open Secrets”, Rumi called this – all of us trying to navigate our way through the world carrying stuff. We try to hide it from others, but when we share it out in the open, our lives change.

Christopher was working on his red work truck, crawled underneath wearing cut off jean shorts, black socks up to his knees almost, holes in them and his work boots on. No shirt. He was at this summer time weight, I could tell. Working in the heat does that to both he and Shawn, I know. Mom yelled at him that it didn’t look safe under there. He assured her that he had back up blocks so the truck would not roll backwards off the ramps and flatten him.

“Ma – can you get me the black electrical tape? It’s on the gear shift in the truck!” he hollered.

She poked around in there a bit but couldn’t find it, asked a few questions and finally, he just crawled out from under the truck and got it himself.

“I was afraid she was going to touch something that she shouldn’t,” he said to me.

“Do you even know what you are doing under there?” she asked.

“Yah!” he shouted.

“Do you know for sure it’s the starter?” she questioned.

“No -” he said.

“Then why are you taking it out?” she asked.

“Well, I gotta try something!” he says back.

Then, he went on to explain what he was doing and why it was a difficult job (because the starter is in a stupid place and you have to make special tools to take it out). He showed us how he used electrical tape to attach two tools together. He used lots of words Mom and I didn’t understand. He wasn’t cranky and he didn’t seem to need our help. Which was nice.

Watching the two of them made me grateful he is there.

I think they are going to be okay, Dad.

Day 355 ~ Setting the Hook!

It was such a glorious weekend up at Lake of the Woods, the lake you adored. Gracie had some initial troubles trying to keep fish on her line.

“You gotta set the hook!” Scott told her.

“What? How do I do that?” she replied.

I flashed back to memories of you in the small fishing boat you had early on in your fishing days. It was a metal boat with bench seats. I think there were three rows. I’m not sure who was driving the boat because I can see you sitting in the middle row.

We could never really tell how big the fish actually were that nibbled on your line. Whether it was minnow sized fish tasting your bait or a massive walleye darting for it all in one gulp, the drama of you setting that hook was always a sight to see.

You didn’t often give the fish too much time to gobble up that bait, setting it hard seemed to be your goal, whipping back that fishing rod so hard that occasionally the force yanked you off your seat and falling backwards onto the floor of the boat.

I remember laughing so hard I cried. And, for days afterwards, just replaying that scene over in my mind brought giggles and happiness knowing how entertaining you were.

We perhaps should name the type of “hook setting” that was characterized by your unique style. We could name it the Grampa Killian Hook, or maybe the DK Whipback. It needs a special name.

I’ll ask the fishermen next time I see them. And, then, we’ll have to model it for the grandchildren, so they all know what we are talking about.

Gracie did eventually catch a few fish.

Perhaps you were there to set those fish on the hook.

Day 354 ~ Seeing You in the Sky

I’m up at LOW, Dad, heading over to Oak Island for a little exploring today. On our way back, these clouds made me think of you. I often think that when I am here, at this lake you loved, that you are with me a little closer. Perhaps watching over me and those I’m with. Rachel saw several hearts in these clouds ~ so it must be true.

Day 350, Spelling Problems

It’s Scott’s birthday today and he asked if I would make him lemon meringue pie for his birthday cake. So, I wrote that down on my to-do list.

But, I could’s spell meringue.

Merrange? Merange? Mirange? Mareng?

I don’t know why spelling is so hard. I love words. I read and write daily – yet, still, I forget what comes first, i before e or the other way around?

I inherited your spelling DNA.

I tell my students this right away at the beginning of each semester. I ask who in the class is a good speller. A few students raise their hands. I let them know that whenever I’m writing on the board and I’m not sure of a word’s spelling, I’m looking at them for verification and help. Knowing our challenges and just letting people know right up front gives one a bit of freedom.

I remember when Scott used to work for you on the farm and you’d write him a check for his pay and instead of writing Scott on the check, you’d write “Scoot”. On the two letters I have saved from you, I notice that every word you are not sure of the spelling, you just let it go, but are sure to write “sp” above it – so we know that you know it’s not right, but it’s okay to write it that way anyway.

This word is “treat”.
Here you attempted “schedule”.

Sometimes, the word was actually spelled right and you thought it was wrong. (scratching head here) Either way, it didn’t stop you from writing the letters. I love to think about that. How we should not let not knowing stop us from doing things.

I’m not sure my spelling will improve – thank goodness for spell check.

Otherwise, I’d just be writing sp above all my words, too. The blessing is, I smile when I misspell words now, because I know I got that from you . . . so it makes me pause and think of you.

All the correct spellings? That’s Mom. 🙂

Day 342 ~ Rigging Things Up

Rigging up things ~

Scott has issues with the driveway when it gets “ruddy” – or is that “rutty”? Anyway, it bugs him.

He’ll get out the four-wheeler with the plow on the front to scrape the ruts off until the driveway is smooth again. But, sometimes the weight of the plow is not enough to dig down deep and really scrape those ruts off. So, he will holler for someone to come out and stand on the plow blade while he drives.

“I need your weight,” he says.

I feel kinda proud of “my weight” when he says this. Never before has “my weight” really been needed. The more the better.

It’s a little sketchy standing on the blade though. You fear your feet might slip and you could cut your leg on it’s edges, or you could fall forward and get run over. I voice these concerns to Scott as he’s driving.

“You’ll be fine,” he says.

“This is quite a set up you’ve got here,” I tell him. It does give me a little bit of an adrenaline rush, which I didn’t expect. It’s about as as brave as I get.

“Yup, it works good. Your dad would like this,” he says.

This is true. You loved rigging things up to get the job done – even if they were a little sketchy.

I wish I could remember some specifics, but I’m sure if I ask my siblings or Scott, some will bubble up.

To be continued. . . need more data. . .

Day 338 ~ Flashbacks to the Days Before

It’s Ryan’s birthday today. He is a quarter of a century old. I struggle to find a way to celebrate the birthdays of my adult children now – especially when they are not home. I thought it would be cool if I started to write my kids handwritten letters again on their birthdays. I used to do this when they were young. I think it would be more meaningful now, being we don’t really do “birthday parties” like we did when they were small.

I decide I need content for this letter, so I scrolled through the text messages from the last year with Ryan. These messages take me back to the moments – the days before you passed away – when I kept urging Ryan to come and see you, before it was too late. He made it, the day before you left us.

I head to the kitchen to refill my coffee and use the bathroom. Scott is joyful this morning – a day off – getting ready to head up to Lake of the Woods to fish with his dad for Father’s Day weekend. He’s trying to tell me he’s using the coffee cup Gracie gave him for Father’s Day and he’s reading the words on the cup aloud to me.

But, I’m in the bathroom, reliving a memory of the day before you died . . . all those people in the hospital room – “I didn’t know he was really that sick, ” Ryan cries. And, then I’m thinking about how I need to head to Salol today to meet people that are interested in buying the house you built close to the lake you loved. And, then . . . how I’m going to try to get through Father’s Day – while feeling guilty that I’ll never actually get a letter written for Ryan’s birthday and my gifts for him are shabby.

Scott’s still giddy, having lifter in his coffee.

Perhaps he needs this now in the mornings . . .

when he’s home with me.